Pitching feverishly


I hate Drew Barrymore. Not “knock those perfectly capped teeth out of her pretty little face” hate. Or even “are we sure David Wells isn’t still on the Yankees payroll??” hate. It’s more of a traditionally bitter “girl sees another girl with something girl wants, gets urge to pull out hair” hate.

Sitting in the darkened movie theater on the opening weekend of Fever Pitch, images of the Red Sox ALCS comeback and the World Series glowing off my face, I felt torn between trying to enjoy the entertainment and being awed by my own jealousy.

Barrymore, who admitted to ESPN.com’s Page 3 that she had little knowledge of baseball or the Red Sox before beginning work on “Fever Pitch,” got to play out – in both real life and on the screen – my own sweet little fantasies. She romped with the adorable Jimmy Fallon – yum. She used my favorite Neanderthal centerfielder, Johnny Damon, as a shield. She felt the grass of Fenway Park under her feet; the very idea of which causes my toes to curl in anticipation of that purest of tickles. She rejoiced in St. Louis when the Sox won in four, paling my own Boston-based celebrations. She attended game after game after game after game after… I think I make my point. And at the end of the day, she got a paycheck. Even the fancy pants Harvard name won’t ever get me that kind of employment. I assume you need some kind of acting talent to get those gigs. What kind of ludicrous meritocracy are we running here? I am tempted to throw a full blown temper tantrum, flailing angry extremities, “But she doesn’t even LIKE the Sox!!!! But it should be meeeeeeeee-eeee!” Paying no dues, the girl still gets to live the dream.

Granted, my admission of lusting after the husky lads has probably destroyed my credibility, but Fallon’s character, well, let me just say, I want to sail that dream boat. It’s common knowledge among my friends that a Red Sox cap will exponentially increase a boy’s attractiveness. Family and confidants force me to put any Sox fan for whom I express interest through an often very disappointing “lidless” test, easily remembered by the grammarless ditty, “remove that hat, see where you at.” So it’s to be expected that the very notion of the apartment crafted for Ben W., the Fallon character, acts as quite the aphrodisiac. I picture myself in the throes of that relationship. Washing behind a Red Sox shower curtain. Resting my weary Yankee-befuddled head on Red Sox pillow cases. Stealing a pair of Red Sox boxers to lounge through a summer afternoon game on the radio. Goosebumps through and through. And the clincher? Marry this one and you marry into field level season tickets. I don’t want my diamond pear cut or marquis cut. I want it mower cut. No dowry in history can match that. Any fool can give you kids and a house. Real security is always knowing where you will be come Opening Day.

But did Barrymore’s character appreciate all her beau truly had to offer? Could the actress have any clue that she was being paid for the best fantasy camp ever, that each day as she trudged to work, she was outliving even my most enormous of dreams?

The film returned floods of memories from the playoffs, and with them, the tears that came the first time round. Papi’s late inning clinchers, game by game. Harold Reynolds and his awful brown and orange suit. That teary-eyed woman in her pumpkin sweatshirt, on TV making visible all our prayers. Fresh before, those images felt sweet once again.

And while I watched history unfold on TV, Barrymore got the up-close and personal experience. I should be happy for her success. Sadly, I am simply not that mature.

While it’s hardly a baseball movie in the vein of “Field of Dreams” or “Bull Durham,” while the comedy doesn’t reach the scale of “Major League” or the poignancy that of “The Natural,” “Fever Pitch” is a solidly amusing flick set against the greatest season in memory. And that includes my long 86-year prenatal memory. Since the unending quality of this column most assuredly lets me wield great influence, I will gladly say, go see the picture. Line the lucky Ms. Barrymore’s pockets even deeper.

As I fall asleep tonight, snuggling with my favorite bedtime companion, a plush rabbit named Wade Buggs, I can only hope that my brain will dance with images half as rich as those in the movie.

That lucky bi*&^…

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